Taieri fullback premier player of year

Josh Casey has ended an impressive season by taking Dunedin premier rugby's top individual honour.

The Taieri fullback was named player of the year at last night's awards dinner at his home club.

It has been an impressive season for the 24-year-old, who brought up 50 games for the Eels.

He was also the top points-scorer (171), as well as the top try-scorer (13).

Trailing him in player of the year voting was Kaikorai first five-eighth Ben Miller and Southern loose forward Kyle Harris.

Otago Daily Times group sales manager Paul Dwyer (left) presents Josh Casey with the Dunedin...
Otago Daily Times group sales manager Paul Dwyer (left) presents Josh Casey with the Dunedin premier club player of the year award at the Taieri Rugby Club last night. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON

Casey first burst on to the club rugby scene as a rookie first five-eighth out of Otago Boys' High School three years ago.

Since then he has had a stint in Spain and returned a bigger, more robust player, while also being hampered by an ankle injury.

After playing for North Otago in 2016, he missed most of last season due to the injury, which surgery helped alleviate.

A summer spent training in Twizel helped him shed 6-7kg and the effects were clear.

Now a fullback who can cover at first five-eighth, Casey's renewed pace and agility has been evident.

That was key in helping Taieri to second place in the regular season, although the side was beaten 30-20 in its semifinal by Harbour.

Casey is the first back to win the top prize since Zingari-Richmond's Lachie Moore in 2014.

Adam Knight won in 2015, Jackson Hemopo and Mark Grieve-Dunn were joint-winners in 2016 and Hame Toma took the prize last year.

The club personality of the year went to Zingari-Richmond's Chris Bell.

The No8 broke the Dunedin record for most games for one club when he played his 243rd game late this season.

The women's awards both went to University players.

First five-eighth Rosie Kelly secured the back of the year award, while openside flanker Georgia Mason claimed the forward of the year prize.

The referee of the year was Jono Bredin.

Kaikorai prop George Hendry and Pirates women's fullback Sheree Hume were both recognised for playing 100 premier matches.

Green Island hooker Peter Mirrielees was acknowledged for playing 200.

Pirates women's midfielder Kilistina Moata'ane was also acknowledged for being named as part of the first Black Ferns-contracted player squad.

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